Tuesday, August 30, 2011
There was a documentary about Queen, the British rock band, on the Biography channel last night. It was fun to see clips of some of the band's performances from the 80's.
What I hadn't realized before watching the show last night was that Freddie Mercury, their flamboyant singer, was also their primary songwriter. He wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, their signature number. Production for the song was so complicated that it took place at five studios, and the other band members had no idea how the finished product would sound.
Mercury also penned Killer Queen, Somebody to Love, Don't Stop Me Now, We are the Champions, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
Wikipedia also had a surprise about Mercury. His birth name was Farrokh Bulsara, and he was born in Zanzibar (now Tanzania) to Parsi parents from the Gujarat region of India. He grew up mostly in Bombay, where he learned to play the piano.
Mercury's natural speaking voice was evidently a baritone, but he sang mostly as a tenor. Remarkably, his range extended from low bass to high soprano.
Mercury was, in his own words, "as gay as a daffodil." I've certainly never seen a gayer -- i.e., more exuberant -- gay man. He was a spectacularly ebullient performer, but had the saving grace of always seeming to be making fun of himself at the same time. He would prance around on the stage wearing ridiculous outfits, and dance and posture like a madman, but it never seemed to affect the quality of his singing.
All of the songs linked here, in particular Bohemian Rhapsody, show evidence of his genius. A couple demonstrate his showmanship as well.